WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES A DECADE MAKE? A survey conducted in Southern California between 1976 and 1979 (Ralph Turner, Joanne M. Nigg, and Denise Heller Paz) concluded that “most households are unprepared for an earthquake.” A similar survey conducted approximately 10 years later (James Goltz and Linda B. Bourque) showed significantly higher levels of preparedness. During the intervening years, public interest in preparedness was galvanized by the eruption of Mount Saint Helens and several large earthquakes in the United States and abroad. Capitalizing on this interest, local, state, and federal governments created programs to promote preparedness for a major earthquake.

TABLE 2. PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS TAKEN BY LOS ANGELES COUNTY RESIDENTS 1979-1989

 

1979

1989

Emergency Supplies

Water

17.1

65.1

Food

26.8

66.9

Radio

54.1

67.9

First-aid kit

54.1

67.9

Flashlight

71.5

86.3

Mitigation

Structurala

11.1

12.3

Rearrange cupboards

16.3

22.2

Cupboard latches

10.2

11.6

Planning/Training

Family Proceduresb

34.1

51.6

Reunion of familyb

22.1

44.3

Instruct childrenb

50.4

71.2

Neighbor contacts

19.5

20.8

Neighborhood plan

12.2

6.0

Attend meetings

8.5

4.6

Earthquake insurancea

18.0

26.2

a Calculated for homeowners only

b Calculated for respondents with dependent children only.

zational decision-making in an emergency, information flow and exchange, and identification of factors critical to emergency management decision-making.

A program for enhancing the nation's preparedness capabilities should include:

  1. Assessment of needs and capabilities. In cooperation with other federal agencies, FEMA should assist state and local jurisdictions in assessing community awareness, training, and preparedness. State and local emergency planners will need several tools for such an evaluation: a self-assessment mechanism for determining the strengths and weaknesses of current emergency response planning; a model community asset inventory to identify the human and material resources available or missing; guidelines for assigning response, recovery, and reconstruction responsibilities; a model emergency response exercise guide; and recovery and reconstruction planning guidelines, checklists, and model plans. These tools should be adapted for use by business and industry, schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, and neighborhood organizations. Videotapes, slide presentations, workshops, and brochures should be developed for this purpose.

The federal government should also support interdisciplinary teams to assist communities directly in preparedness for response, recovery, and reconstruction. For example, flood-, wildfire-, and earthquakeprone communities would benefit from the advice of a team of urban planners, geologists, soil scientists, environmental engineers, structural engineers, city administrators, and communications specialists. Such a program should emphasize direct field assistance by experienced teams that can tailor their expertise to a community's needs.

  1. Training for response, recovery, and reconstruction. Many individuals responsible for local disaster management have limited training in the field and need increased access to training programs and materials. Interdisciplinary, multijurisdictional training is especially valuable because it encourages mutual understanding and lays the foundation for cooperation in emergencies. Nongovernmental agencies should be included in this program.

The federal government should take the lead in developing a national training program. FEMA's National Emergency Training Center (NETC), located in Emmitsburg, Maryland, should be a focal point



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